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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Handy Tip of the Day

Hello there, comics fans!  Today we'd like to give you a quick refresher on a frequent source of confusion here at your friendly neighborhood comic shop:  the difference between graphic novels and trade paperbacks!

A graphic novel is exactly what it sounds like- a novel, in graphic form.  It's meant to stand on its own as a complete story, even if that story continues on in sequels.  Art Spiegelman's Maus is a graphic novel; so is each volume in the popular series Scott Pilgrim.  Graphic novels come in all shapes and page counts.

A trade paperback is a collection of a series of previously-published comics, often as a story arc that's part of an ongoing narrative, even if that narrative eventually ends.  Your X-Men and your Batman and the like are bound as trade paperbacks (almost always after an initial hardcover edition), as are less mainstream titles like Sandman and Tank Girl.  Trade paperbacks are approximately the same size as Modern Age comic books, which are about 10 by 6 3/4 inches, and usually only the length of four or five comics.

There can be a bit of a gray area between the two.  Alan Moore's Watchmen is considered a graphic novel, despite the fact that it was originally published as a comic miniseries. Manga titles often share the ongoing serial quality of many comics but are considered serieses of graphic novels.  Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman certainly has the feel of a novel but is collected in two trade paperbacks, while Paul Pope's 100% fits easily into either category.  If you're referring to something like the bound printings of Love and Rockets you'd probably want to use the word collected editions; the book form of a collection of work by many different creators, like Marvel's Strange Tales, is a bound anthology.

Now, nobody's gonna break out the wet noodle if you can't keep it all straight.  Like we said, sometimes it's ambiguous!  The purpose of this notice is to illuminate the diversity of our favorite medium-  knowing what's what can give you a better idea of what you're looking for when exploring the wide world of comics!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Anthology Update: Tunes

Comics and music are both storytelling devices, and the rebellious bent of rock and roll appeals to many of the same people who enjoy the left-of-mainstream stylings of the sequential arts.  Music figures prominently in many comics, especially live music; you can find characters rocking out in the pages of favorites like Love and Rockets, Young Liars, Strangers In Paradise, and Scott Pilgrim.  The real challenge, though, lies in getting that energy across- how can you convey a sound with ink and paper?  How can you make a reader "hear" loud, beautiful music in a strictly visual medium?

In Tunes: A Comic Book History of Rock and Roll, a number of French cartoonists each tackle that challenge with a distinct vision, with a variety of fascinating results (don't worry, with the exception of the Led Zeppelin installment it's all in English).  Obion throws the Beatles a text-free inkwash parade; Morvandiau uses single wavering lines to describe each instrument's path in the Rolling Stones' "Love In Vain".  Mathieu Sapin gives a personal account of missing a historic White Stripes concert while Tanquerelle gives Iggy Pop the Alice in Wonderland treatment.  Some approaches are cute (Blondie), some are creepy (Radiohead), some are abstract (the Pixies), some are poignant (Elvis).  This anthology is worth a look for these wildly different solutions to the sound problem alone, but readers with limited Euro-comics experience will like the primer on the range of artistic and storytelling styles as well.  Edited by French journalist Vincent Brunner, it's out now in paperback from Universe Publishing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nicol Bolas

When most people think of Magic the Gathering, only a collectible card game comes to mind.  In reality, the mythos and lore created by Wizards of the Coast expands far beyond the game.  In a post regarding world-building, we introduced you to Jace Beleren and the Multiverse.  Today, you meet someone even more significant than Jace.

What's cooler than an all-powerful  wizard? An all-powerful dragon wizard, that's what.  Nicol Bolas is the oldest living being in all the Multiverse.  Here's a quick glimpse at one of the most powerful planeswalkers in history.

For one whose life spans millenia, talking about mundane details like birth and death (or deaths in this case) is meaningless.  As many lives are defined by conflict, Nicol Bolas has mastered the art of controlling conflict.  In this he manipulates entire planes and even other planeswalkers.  Combining his elder dragon powers along with the power of a planeswalker has made Nicol Bolas a seemingly omnipotent being for century upon century. 

His machinations have often put him at odds against enemies of unimaginable power.  Since this is Nicol Bolas we're talking about, they always come at him in groups.  Even if he seems to be defeated, we usually find out it was all part of his plan.  Maybe this guy is a sore loser, but I'm inclined to believe him.  He recently lost his planeswalker power and is forced to make due with his elder dragon powers.  Where once he had limitless time an untold wealth of knowledge accumulated over millenia of access to the most secretive arcance texts, Nicol Bolas now faces mortality and a eroding memory.  For the first time ever, Nicol Bolas is working against the clock.  Be sure to check out the continuing saga of Nicol Bolas as he is on a quest to regain his lost power at all costs. 

To find out more about the exploits of Nicol Bolas as well as other Planeswalkers from MtG, copy the web address below.

- Ryan

Monday, November 8, 2010

Banya the Explosive Deliveryman

With a widespread was raging between humans and the monstrous Torren, the young delivery men of the Gaya Desert Post Office do not pledge allegiance to any country or king.  They are banded together by the pledge to deliver. "Fast. Precise. Secure." Banya, the craziest and craftiest of the bunch will stop at nothing to get a job done.  Known for his risk taking, bold resolve, and impeccable record, Banya agrees to complete a wounded soldier's mission to transport a parcel of great importance - know know what dangers lie in store for him and his friends! As their arduous journey begins, Banya promises, "There isn't a delivery I can't make. I always deliver."

Beautiful artwork with kinetic, visceral action is a sure-fire way to grab the attention of your readers.  Banya creator Kim Young-Oh delivers (oh, I went there) this in heaps in this series.  Flip open to any page of the book and you will see what I'm talking about.  This manga is more than a pretty face, though, it is packed with colorful, well-developed characters and a lush, thought out world. 

While it may be a futile hope, I would like to see this character make his way to the big screen some day.  Immediate thought might turn towards an animated project, but I think Banya could really sing as a live-action production.  Banya said there isn't a delivery he can't make, but I'm still waiting on my movie...

* Blurb taken from back of book

- Ryan